In-flight Wi-Fi takes off as costs nosedive

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In-flight Wi-Fi will be boosted by low-cost airlines adopting the technology, leading to a threefold increase in deployments, new research has claimed.

A report from Juniper Research said airlines are increasingly keen to offer passengers connected in-flight entertainment as the cost of the technology decreases. By 2020, Wi-Fi will be present in more than 10,400 aircraft, up from 3,200 this year.

Another change in the airline sector is to move away from traditional embedded seatback screens to a Bring Your Own Device approach. Passengers use connectivity to stream content on their devices, a move that reduces hardware costs and weight for airlines.

Growth in connectivity is also being fuelled by the increasing number of companies offering air-to-ground and satellite networks. The report said companies such as Inmarsat are offering connectivity at a lower costs and higher capacity.

The report noted the rise in end-to-end service providers, offering companies connectivity, hardware and content. However, it added these companies, such as Gogo, Panasonic Avionics and Global Eagle Entertainment, need to develop viable business models in order to avoid consolidation.

Another issue was safety and security, as airlines have no control over the devices used to consume content. Juniper researcher Gareth Owen said: “Airlines must ensure that they address all types of risks, including that of a rogue passenger hacking into an aircraft’s avionic systems or servers, with potentially disastrous consequences.”